My latest recipe uses country-style pork ribs because they always show up on sale at my local Latin grocery store for as little as 97 cents per pound! Even at full price they go for around $2 per pound - still a great deal. You can use any ribs you find on cheaply, beef or pork.
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I use a pre-boiling method, that is I load up a pot and stack in the ribs with a cup of water. The ribs steam for a couple of hours until tender, then they are finished with a hour of smoking in my gas grill. I cut down on steaming time with a Pressure Cooker - it only takes 45 minutes to tenderize the thick pork ribs.
My ingredient list is small: garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper and barbecue sauce - that's it. I get these ingredients (even wood chips) cheaply at my local 99c only Stores.
To smoke with barbecue sauce or not to smoke with sauce? That is the question. I've had it both ways and like each.
Texas BBQ ribs are usually smoked without sauce; while out here in my South LA neighborhood, some soul food joints will smoke ribs with the sauce, and give you some extra sauce on the side. Smoking for a short time with sauce give ribs a sweet caramelized skin.
At a BBQ restaurant, cooking with sauce is throwing the dice - you may not like the barbecue sauce recipe. Since you are selecting a favorite sauce it's not a taste problem. And my short time smoking method makes any sauce-burning a minor threat. Of course you can smoke the pork ribs without sauce and just add it during the last 10 minutes of smoking if you like your BBQ wet; or just leave it off.
My time saving tricks include pre-cooking (tenderizing) the ribs and smoking them for only one hour. I've used this technique for BBQ Pulled Pork and Homemade Deli Pastrami to delicious ends (click on those names to see what I mean.) And you can be sure I'll be replaying this approach all summer.
I got such a huge package of country-style ribs that I smoked a few raw ribs to see what happens. While not as tender as steamed/tenderized ribs, they were smoky sweet with the tougher texture of a fried pork chop - I liked them that way, too.
Like any BBQ pit, I set up my gas grill for indirect smoking. All you do is place the meat away from the fire and let the smoking wood chips do all the work.
I have a metal rack above the grill and placed the raw pork ribs over the hot wood chips, so the raw pork cooks through. It worked quite well, the raw pork cooked perfectly and remained moist, with just an hour of smoking. Depending how how hot the wood chips burn and the thickness of the ribs, cooking time will vary.
If the ribs end up a little raw, then just grill the pork over direct fire until done (or, finish by baking in your kitchen oven.) Always slice into the thickest rib to check for desired doneness.
Raw smoked country-style pork rib.
Once you've tried my easy-smoked BBQ method, you will be coming back for more. There is nothing that taste as good as a summer patio BBQ smoke out.
- 3-5 pound pork ribs - I used country style pork ribs, as they are meatier than typical ribs, and come on sale more often than any other ribs. You can use any type of ribs you like.
- 2 tablespoons garlic - For steaming ribs I used chopped raw garlic. For cooking raw ribs on grill, I used dried garlic.
- 2 tablespoons chili powder - optional
- Barbecue sauce for smoking - about a cup. Use any favorite barbecue sauce. Slather on as much (or little) as you like.
- Salt and pepper to taste.
- 1 cup water - to cook and steam pork ribs.
- About 4-6 cups of wood chips for smoking on a BBQ grill.
Directions for pressure cooking
For pressure cooking meat, add water and pork to pressure cooker.Sprinkle on the chili powder, raw garlic, salt and pepper. Okay to use dried garlic.
Add one cup of water to pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 45 minutes to one hour. I have only used one type of Pressure Cooker, so check the cooking directions and estimated cooking times of your brand of Pressure Cooker.
Basically you start with a high heat to bring the cooker up to right temperature. My Pressure Cooker has a steam release cap that bobs and tilts when it reaches correct pressure. I reduce heat by half to keep the release cap moving at a slow and steady speed. Pressure Cookers come in all types so best to follow directions that come with it.
Normal stove top steaming
For regular stove top cooking you can steam the pork ribs in a large pot with a cover. Add a cup of water and the meat.
Sprinkle on the chili powder, raw (or dried) garlic, salt and pepper. Bring water to a boil then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover the pot. Cook pork ribs until tender, about 2-3 hours, depending on thickness of meat.
Done when meat is tender and easy enough to break apart. Don't worry if it's too tender, it will firm up as the meat smokes and dries out some. Place it on a pan or wire rack for the smoking stage. Coat the ribs with your favorite BBQ sauce. You can coat one side or all sides.
Smoking Country-Style Pork Ribs
For raw pork ribs coat them with chili powder, dried garlic, salt and pepper.
Next slather on the barbecue sauce, adding as much as you like. I you don't like barbecue sauce then leave it off the raw and cooked pork ribs.
They can go right to smoking. Since I made Smoked BBQ Pork Ribs with raw and cooked meat, I coated the raw pork and put it in the refrigerator until the other ribs were finished steaming. That way I smoked all the meat at the same time.
Now time to smoke the pork ribs. There are several ways - you mainly need an outdoor grill with a cover. I have a 2 burner gas grill.
The object is to smoke the meat with indirect and low heat. That is, place the cooked meat as far away from the flame as possible. Since meat is already cooked, you only need to smoke it at this stage. If you have a simple outdoor charcoal barbecue grill then build a fire way off to one side.
I placed the wood chips in a shallow pan. The pan with chips was about 6 inches above the flame - too close and the wood will catch fire too easily. You can soak wood chips in water for a couple of hours before smoking, as well.
The raw pork goes over the wood chips, where it's hottest, so the raw pork will cook all the way through. When done the texture will be firm, similar to a fried pork chop, but with an intense smoky flavor.
*Okay to smoke raw pork on same side as cooked pork, just don't have it touch cooked pork (cross-contamination.) If pork is still a little raw after an hour, then grill it over a regular fire to your desired doneness. Okay to finish cooking pork in the oven, too. Be sure to slice into thickest pork rib after smoking to check for doneness. Flesh will be white and juices will run clear. Internal temperature is 160 degrees.
Check on wood chips as they smoke down. Also have a water bottle handy just in case the wood chips catch fire - you don't want to burn the ribs.
Cover the barbecue grill and smoke ribs for about one hour. I set the flame on my gas grill to low; the wood chips started smoking in less than five minutes. Add more wood chips as they burn away.
In the hour of smoking I had to some wood chips a couple of times. If you are using a coal burning grill your smoking time may be shorter, as they often burn hotter than a more controllable gas grill.
The sauce will dry out and caramelize on the meat. You can add more sauce halfway through smoking. If you like your sauce wetter, then only add barbecue sauce 5 to 10 minutes before meat is done smoking. Same applies for raw pork ribs. Okay to add some barbecue sauce just before serving.
Pre-steamed & smoked Country-style Rib.
And I have a couple of classic barbecue sides for you, just click on the following names of Coleslaw, Potato Salad or Ranch-style Beans to see my recipes.
The main idea is to smoke the pork ribs in an easy way. You can use any ribs you like, beef or pork. Okay to reduce tenderizing time for thinner baby back or spare ribs. Of course you can cut down ribs into several small slabs to fit inside the steaming pot.
When smoking the meat, use indirect heat so the meat doesn't dry out.
Add as little, or as much barbecue sauce as you like. You can add the sauce anytime during smoking stage. Even during the last 10 minutes.
Raw pork may take a little longer to cook, that's why I placed it above the wood chips. You can always just smoke raw pork off to the side, but it may need some direct heat to finish cooking all the way through.
It's easier to control heat with a gas grill. A regular coal burning grill may burn more intensely, so keep an eye on the wood chips and meat. And keep an spray water bottle handy for wood chip fire flare ups.